News / Health

    Why Zika Will Be Hard to Stop

    Zika Virus May be Hard to Stopi
    February 02, 2016 12:19 AM
    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    The World Health Organization declared Zika a global health emergency Monday. And for many governments and experts, the worst may be yet to come.

    Zika is a danger to public health because it is thought to be linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

    “After a review of the evidence, the committee advised that the causes of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization after an emergency meeting in the organization’s headquarters in Geneva.

    Statements from WHO ZIKA News Conference, Feb. 1, 2016

    WHO ZIKA News Conference, Feb. 1, 2016i
    February 01, 2016 11:37 PM
    The World Health Organization has declared Zika to be global public-health emergency. At a special meeting of researchers and health officials on the virus in Geneva Monday, the WHO said Zika is "public health emergency of international concern."

    Because the Zika virus is passed from person to person by common mosquitoes, the virus could be unstoppable.

    The WHO says more than 4 million in the Americas could eventually be infected.

    Emergency in Brazil

    Brazil has been hit the hardest with an explosion of newborns with microcephaly. Marcelo Castro, health minister of Brazil said the outbreak is worse than believed.

    “Technicians have informed us that approximately 80 percent of people who are infected by the Zika virus, do not develop significant symptoms, so a large number of those infected by the Zika virus, contract the illness, but they do not develop symptoms,” said Castro.

    Sueli Maria (obscured) holds her daughter Milena, who has microcephaly, (born seven days ago), at a hospital in Recife, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2016.
    Sueli Maria (obscured) holds her daughter Milena, who has microcephaly, (born seven days ago), at a hospital in Recife, Brazil, Jan. 28, 2016.

    Brazilian researchers said they are convinced there is a relation between Zika and microcephaly.

    Since October 2015, more than 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been reported in Brazil. In 2014, there were only 150 similar cases.

    No treatment

    Another cause of concern is that there is no known cure. Scientists think it could take years before a vaccine is developed. Many also say drug companies don’t see a profit in creating treatments for diseases that affect the developing world.

    “We need to think with a different logic that is not market-driven. I think the market-driven logic and paradigm is outdated. We need to look at these as a global health challenge that needs a global health comprehensive response,” Dr. Carolina Batista, from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, told VOA in an interview from Rio de Janeiro.

    Batista said drug companies should concentrate on the patient and not on revenue.

    Attack the mosquito

    Because of the lack of treatment, many argue the only way to contain the virus is attacking the mosquito.

    “The key issue is for those countries to do aggressive control of the mosquito, to implement and engage all of society in a multi-sectorial and inter-sectorial approach to control the vehicle that transmits the virus,” Marcos Espinal of the Pan American Health Organization told VOA.

    Espinal also says countries with tropical conditions, which are common in Latin America, are in more danger. In much of the U.S. and Canada, the mosquito doesn’t do well in winter, so an outbreak is less likely.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora